Local lockdowns: What are new three-tier Covid rules?

12 October 2020, 07:52

The Government has said it is working with local leaders to decide which areas are covered by the third tier
The Government has said it is working with local leaders to decide which areas are covered by the third tier. Picture: PA

By Matt Drake

Boris Johnson is expected to announce new measures for the north of England including pub closures and bans on mingling for four weeks, but what is are new three-tier measures?

Different parts of the country will be split up into "medium", "high" or "very high" local coronavirus alert areas under the new system the Prime Minister is expected to announce later today.

Mr Johnson will be finalising the exact levels of restrictions at a COBRA meeting he is holding this morning, and is expected to lay out the measures in the House of Commons later this afternoon.

What do the tiers mean?

The three tiers represent an advancing scale of local restrictions.

Tier one

These are thought to be the baseline restrictions in place across England, including a 10pm hospitality curfew and a ban on most gatherings of more than six people.

Tier two

Theses are expected to be similar to rules currently in place in Middlesbrough and parts of the North East, where indoor mixing of households is not allowed.

Two households may be allowed to meet in a private garden, as long as the rule of six and social distancing are followed.

Tier three

The exact detail of tier three are yet to be confirmed, but leaders in Liverpool said pubs and bars, betting shops, casinos, and gyms would close under the third "very high" restrictions.

Reports have also suggested people will have to avoid all non-essential travel and to not travel between areas.

Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen said these restrictions are expected to last for four weeks at a time.

Read more: Fears of business 'devastation' ahead of fresh measures for North

Country to be divided into ‘medium’, ‘high’ and ‘very high’ Covid alert areas

Which areas may be placed into tier three?

It is not yet clear how an area will be placed into a tier, or to what extent regulations will be written and enforced locally.

However, Nottingham continues to have the highest rate in England, with 2,763 new cases recorded in the seven days to October 8 - the equivalent of 830.0 cases per 100,000 people.

This is a huge jump from 314.5 per 100,000 in the seven days to October 1.

Nottingham City Council expects a local lockdown to be imposed on Monday, with councils in the area asking residents to not mix with people outside of their households or bubbles.

What about elsewhere?

Knowsley has the second-highest rate, which has climbed from 485.9 to 669.5, with 1,010 new cases, and Liverpool is in third place, where the rate has increased from 504.4 to 598.5, with 2,981 new cases.

However, on Sunday evening Steve Rotheram, mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said negotiations were ongoing with the Government, which intends to put Liverpool into the third tier.

He said: "We have been clear that new restrictions must come with the financial support to protect jobs and businesses.

"A deal is not a deal until it is agreed."

Read more: New daily Covid cases dip slightly as 65 more UK deaths recorded

Desmond Swayne on further restrictions on public amid pandemic

What has the response been?

The Government has said it is working with local leaders to decide which areas are covered by the third tier, as well as determining the right response for the specific area.

However, Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese previously said there was a "large gulf" in discussions about new restrictions.

He said: "We seem to have an almost impossible task of penetrating the Westminster bubble."

Northern leaders, including Sir Richard and the mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, wrote an open letter to northern MPs on Sunday, calling for financial support for businesses affected by restrictions.

What happens next?

Many of the details of how the tiers and the specific measures in each area will be negotiated and enforced are currently unclear.

On Monday, the Prime Minister will chair a meeting of the Government's COBR committee to finalise what will be announced in Parliament.

He will later host a press conference at Downing Street where he will be joined by Chancellor Rishi Sunak and England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty.

Downing Street said MPs would be asked to debate and vote on the three-tier measures next week.

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